JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) –  More than five years after the catastrophic collapse of a utility’s reservoir sent a billion
gallons of water tumbling down a southeastern Missouri mountain, Ameren Missouri has built a new and better replacement.

Now, the power company wants to recover from its electric customers some of the cost for building it, sparking criticism from consumer advocates.

The dispute comes as regulators at the Missouri Public Service Commission are considering an electric rate increase requested by St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri.

The power company contends customers benefit from a new Taum Sauk reservoir that is safer and will last longer.

It wants a portion of the nearly $500 million cost for building the replacement reservoir added to the rate base
to be collected from electric customers over time.

Critics, including the state public counsel who represents customers before regulators, argue electric customers should not be forced to pay and that Ameren previously has said its ratepayers would not be on the hook for the collapse of the initial reservoir.

“But for the fact they ran the thing so badly that they destroyed it, we wouldn’t have any of these costs,” public counsel
Lewis Mills told The Associated Press this past week.

Ameren Missouri says the new Taum Sauk reservoir has improved seismic considerations, can produce more energy and will be in operation longer.

A spokeswoman for the utility said it has upheld the promise that ratepayers would not face the costs of the collapse and that what it is seeking are allowed.



Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press


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